Cooper can make case for Wallabies spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper can make case for Wallabies spot

By Jim Morton 11/07/2008 05:19:06 PM Comments (0)

Young gun Quade Cooper has the chance to stamp himself as a bona fide Wallabies playmaking back-up when Queensland take on the Alan Jones-coached Barbarians on Sunday.

Queensland and Australia A coach Phil Mooney wants to see Cooper grab an important opportunity to impress with a strong and smart 80-minute display in the Back to Ballymore clash.

Australia are desperately short of capable ball-playing inside backs behind Test duo Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes, who are combining well under new coach Robbie Deans.

A concerned Deans himself admitted this week he had no suitable replacement for Barnes as a playmaking No.12 if he failed to overcome a shoulder injury to play in the Tri-Nations.

Mooney indicated neither Daniel Halangahu nor Sam Norton-Knight made the most of their five-eighth chances for Australia A to stamp themselves as next in line.

With Waratahs whiz Kurtley Beale and Brumbies pivot Christian Lealiifano both injured, Cooper is the only Super 14 starting playmaker who could provide cover.

"That position is a position where there isn't an over-abundance of international class players," Mooney said.

"Obviously Berrick and Matt Giteau fill that role in the Wallabies and no-one in the As nailed that position down so Quade would have to be there, thereabouts.

"Quade's biggest goal now is to perform consistently whenever he plays."

Cooper has mixed brilliance with brain explosions in his two seasons in the Super 14 but showed promising signs in 2008 as the young Reds threw off their shackles.

Sunday's one-off clash, which will feature 60-Test enforcer Toutai Kefu at No.8 for star-laden Barbarians, will be the youngster's first game back after playing for the Australian under-20s at the Junior World Cup.

Kefu will arrive from Japan in time for the Barbarians' final training run under former Wallabies coach and radio broadcaster Jones on Saturday morning.

With Tongan back-rower Epi Taione an interesting selection at inside centre, Jones has promised the Barbarians will attempt to throw the ball around, a style Mooney has implemented with the Reds.

"The ingredients are there for plenty of entertainment," Mooney said.

British Lion Dan Luger is on the wing for the Ba Bas and Argentinean five-eighth Gonzalo Quesada will play off the bench, while Jones' pack features former All Black Scott Robertson and Wallabies rake Jeremy Paul.

Veteran flanker David Croft will skipper the Reds XV, which contains nine regular Super 14 starters, in his last game in a Queensland jersey.

Barbarians: Mark Gerrard, Ratu Nasiganiyavi, Zane Mitchell, Epi Taione, Dan Luger, Ben Gollings (capt), Sam Cordingley; Toutai Kefu, Beau Robinson, Scott Robertson, Mitchell Chapman, Sitaleki Timani, Salesi Maafu, Jeremy Paul, Pek Cowan. Res: John Ulugia, Dan Palmer, Jason Harrington, Andrew Shaw, Moses Rauluni, Gonzalo Quesada, Andrew Walker/Nathan Williams.

Queensland: Aidan Toua, Digby Ioane, Morgan Turinui, Charlie Fetoai, Blair Connor, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas, Leroy Houston, David Croft (capt), Tasi Luafutu, Robert Simmons, Van Humphries, James Slipper, Sean Hardman, Greg Holmes. Reserves: Ben Daley, James Hansen, Liam Shaw, Dan Linde, Brendan McKibbin, Matt Brandon, Luke Morahan.

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